2016 Women’s Empowerment Rally: 20000 Strong – Imagine a Belize without Women
Wednesday, March 16th, 2016
The second annual 20,000 Strong Women’s Rally took place on Friday, March 12th in Belize City, with close to 700 Belizean women coming out to support female empowerment under the theme “20,000 Strong – Imagine a Belize without Women”. While the rally did not obtain its desired number of participants, this year saw a far greater turn out than the 2015 rally. Led by the Special Envoy for Women and Children, Kim Simplis Barrow, the 20,000 Strong Women’s Rally is a great avenue to voice women related issues in hopes of achieving gender equality across the country.
Participants gathered at the Memorial Park in Belize City dressed in orange T-shirts for the rally, which started shortly after 9:30AM. From teachers to students, public officers and entrepreneurs, women from all walks of life made it out to show their support to the cause. The rally ended at Marion Jones Stadium where official remarks were delivered. “I am happy to say that this is a much bigger crowd than the last 20,000 strong. Obviously the message got out that the 20,000 strong is a movement, it’s a movement; to create change. Change in our society of how we view women, how we treat our women and that is very important. This struggle is about all of us. This struggle is about the future of your children, the betterment of society and our world,” said Simplis Barrow at the event.
This year, the national rally focused on empowering women through financial independence. The guest speaker for the event was Cecile Watson, a major advocate of entrepreneurship in Caribbean. She delivered a powerful message of empowerment and sisterhood. Other speakers included Belizean entrepreneurs Mapye Smite and Cystal Samos, who both encouraged aspiring entrepreneurs to take up the challenge for the upliftment of their families.
Among the participants were several island women. “What we are seeking is more opportunities for women to also be at the forefront of things that are happening in our country. Let us be looking beyond the beauty of the women and look at the brains and what they can also contribute to our community. I am only one, but I know around me and behind me there are so many more that can continue contributing not only politically, but also socially,” said well-known island resident and former Belize Rural South Area Representative, Patty Arceo.
The highlight of the rally was the announcement of the 20-4-20 Women’s Economic Development Program which will provide micro- funding, training and mentors for women to start small business or expand existing businesses with sustainability as the core objective.
The Special Envoy for Women and Children would like to thank the National Women’s Commission for collaborating on the really, as well as the Government of Belize and private sector for sponsoring the event. Special thanks to all those who came out to show support for the 2016 20,000 Strong Women’s Rally.
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